As a writer, it’s sometimes very easy to get discouraged with this career I’ve chosen. Rejection rather than acceptance is the norm, a book may sell to a publisher then get dropped because of financial reasons, work that does gets published may get panned or, even worse, ignored. Holding onto that motivation that made me want to be a writer in the first place can sometimes seem a futile endeavor.
And so when James A. Owen released Drawing Out the Dragons: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice as an e-book (on April Fool’s Day, of all days), it was like an inspirational bolt from heaven, exactly what I needed to read right now at this point in my life and career.
One thing the book does is to humble me utterly. Owen has gone through ten people’s worth of seemingly-insurmountable challenges, and yet he has never lost his faith in himself as an artist and creator. Not when he was expected not to survive a mysterious childhood illness, not when his drawing hand was crushed in a car accident, not when he sold everything he owned to move overseas for his dream job and then watch that job evaporate before his eyes. Owen’s consistently positive outlook enabled him to not only meet these adversities (and many more) head-on, but to turn them into opportunities for life-changing triumphs.
In the telling of his life’s lessons, Owen consistently relays the impression that while his experiences may have been unique, the way that he handled them was not, that any of us can maintain the same mindset toward success. That the choices we make — moving long-distance for a new career, quitting a safe regular job to focus on one’s passion, taking inspiration from Superman and visualizing oneself healthy, or simply making lines on paper — are always up to us to make the best of.
Unlike normal types of self-help or motivational books, Drawing Out the Dragons provides inspiration through experiential storytelling. Owen never lays out the “keys to success” or the “steps to happiness,” but through his actions and the wonderfully fluid way in which in relays them in this book, any reader can glean these keys and steps for oneself. A modern riff on the idea of giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish, and Owen proves himself a master teacher.
I’ve known James Owen for a number of years now, but only online. We’ve never met in person, but he has done more for me as a friend and “big brother” than many people I know in real life. But perhaps the best thing he’s yet done is to write Drawing Out the Dragons and present it to the world, and for this I am infinitely grateful. If I am ever lucky enough to meet James in the flesh, you can bet I’m going to ask to see his Superman ring.